Editor’s Note: I find myself in something of a quandary over this story, because my wife’s firm Watershed PR is working with Palmers Brewery on The Three Cups. Anything I write about The Three Cups is therefore likely to be viewed as compromised in some way. I have thought a lot about this and decided – in this instance – to do three things – 1) report factual snippets from a presentation to journalists, for the purpose of breaking news (as earlier on Twitter), 2) reproduce word for word the text of Palmers’ press release, so that you can judge it for yourselves, and if you so wish, use it to assess what other journalists write, and 3) show some photographs of the inside of The Three Cups. I am obviously aware that the objectivity of photographs can be disputed, but not many pictures of the inside of The Three Cups can be seen online, and I think it is worth providing a dozen or so more.
AN independent consultants’ report into the viability of re-converting The Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis into a hotel has found that the costs of re-conversion are so large that the scheme is uneconomic. Palmers Brewery, which owns The Three Cups, will now consult widely with the local community to find a way forward for the site.
The report by TRI Hospitality Consulting examined two possible re-conversion plans: Option A was for a hotel within the existing building with 13 bedrooms, restaurant, bar and meeting room. Option B was a more ambitious scheme to preserve the historic front section of the building while demolishing and rebuilding the rear to include 20 bedrooms, restaurant, bar and meeting room.
The report concluded that the income likely to be generated from Scheme A would allow a maximum of £830,000 to be spent on the reconversion. Option A was estimated to cost £3m leaving a huge shortfall. The figures for Scheme B were similarly uneconomic.
Nigel Jones of Chesterton Humberts, property agents for Palmers, said: ‘Sadly the affordability gap is so huge that there is absolutely no hope of anyone realistically ever being able to afford to reconvert the building into a hotel. The gap is so large that even if it were somehow possible to halve the costs, re-conversion would still be economically unviable.
‘The re-conversion costs are so high not because the building has been unused but because it needs complete re-configuration to meet modern standards and customer requirements. Radical changes would be needed to room layout and facilities; it is not a case of simple refurbishment. The fact it has stood empty for 20 years has not contributed significantly to these costs.
‘We commissioned this report with an open mind because we wanted to find out what the options were. Now we have it, everyone needs to look forward. We are therefore going to consult with the community with the aim of finding proposals for the site that are both appropriate and economically viable.’
Key facts from report
Building occupies a premium site
Tourist season in Lyme Regis has steep peaks and deep troughs, with too much demand in summer and too little in winter, restricting income potential for hotels
Costs are huge: scheme A (reconvert with 13 bedrooms): £3m. Scheme B (some demolition and new build) with 20 bedrooms: just over £4m.
Shortfall on scheme A of nearly £2.5m
Shortfall on scheme B of £2.6 to £3m
TRI Hospitality Consulting
Independent consultants based in London with wide experience of hotel and hospitality industry. Clients include the largest hospitality and financial organisations in the UK. Also has significant experience in the South West.
Produces the largest full Profit & Loss database of full-service hotels across the UK and Europe.
More than 2,000 hotels (300,000+ bedrooms) supply performance data in absolute confidence.
Runs annual UK budget hotel survey, monthly full-service UK and Europe surveys and quarterly confidence monitor.
TRI’s instructions from JC & RH Palmer Ltd
“…you wish to achieve a development which is appropriate for the town and the site and you require an independent assessment of the market and financial viability of the restoration of the Three Cups for hotel use.”
Other consultants involved in project
Davis Langdon, Chartered Quantity Surveyors, Southampton office; Archial Architects Ltd, Bournemouth